‘Reading Landscape’ GSA Research Group, new website

The Reading Landscape Research Group was initiated in June 2014 by Susan Brind (Reader in Contemporary Art: Practice & Events, Department of Sculpture & Enviromental Art) and Nicky Bird (Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice, School of Fine Art).  The research group, based in GSA’s School of Fine Art (SoFA), provides a context for Fine Art practice and other cross disciplinary research interests through a programme of research seminars, and knowledge exchange in addition to practice-led research projects.

We are delighted to launch the new website that brings all of Reading Landscape‘s activities together. www.readingthelandscapesite.com

The Group’s aims are to:

  • Enable the opportunity for critical discourse around the overarching theme of ‘Reading Landscape’ and its relationship to Fine Art;
  • Extend debate beyond the confines of the Group to other Schools within GSA;
  • Participate in critical discourse with practitioners and academics from disciplines beyond Art, Design & Architecture;
  • Engage with discourse nationally and internationally;
  • Nurture possible partnerships and inter-disciplinary collaborations;
  • Make public their research to local, national and international audiences through talks, research visits, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and publications.

You can read about members of the group, and see activities including the exhibition ‘Practicing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation‘ that took place at The Lighthouse, Glasgow in early 2020.

The website will continue to grow, as the group continues to meet, plan activities and share research. We also look forward to re-scheduling the symposiumPracticing Landscape: Land, Histories and Transformation‘ later in 2020.

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‘Four Pools, Wanlock Dod’ Alan Currall (2019)

‘Refuge Garnethill’ new website

‘Refuge Garnethill’ was an exhibition that took place in Garnethill, Glasgow, Scotland, in 2019. It explored themes of heritage, culture and home through photographs taken by students from St Aloysius Church’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes.

We are now delighted to launch the website which presents the ESOL students’ photographs with their writing. It provides some glimpses into the histories and buildings of Garnethill, Glasgow. https://www.refugegarnethillart.com/

The exhibition was a collaboration between St Aloysius Church and The Glasgow School of Art (Community Engagement and GSA Exhibitions), funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund. The website is supported by Glasgow City Council.

'St Aloysius Church interior', (2019)

‘St Aloysius Church interior’, (2019)

With the aim of growing language, creativity and self-confidence, the photographs were taken through a series of six workshops with photographer Betty Meyer. ESOL Classes Co-ordinator Kevin Wyber, along with ESOL tutors, then supported the students in their research into and writing about, the history and heritage of Garnethill, Glasgow.

We would love to see your photographs of Garnethill! If you have any photographs, memories or knowledge relating to Garnethill and its buildings, please go to https://www.refugegarnethillart.com/contact1.html

'Garnethill Park Mosaics', (2019), by St Aloysius Church ESOL students

‘Garnethill Park Mosaics’, (2019), by St Aloysius Church ESOL students

 

GSA Exhibitions Timeline (4): Susannah Thompson, ‘Art Booms with the Guns: The War Years at Glasgow School of Art (1939-1945)’.

Dr Susannah Thompson is Head of Doctoral Studies at the Glasgow School of Art. A previous role for her at GSA was as Exhibitions Assistant. The exhibition ‘Art Booms with the Guns: The War Years at Glasgow School of Art (1939-1945)’ ran from 7 Aug – 15 Sept 2001, in the Mackintosh Building. 

In the late summer of 2001 I co-curated (with Kathy Chambers) what was intended to be a small, archival exhibition looking at staff and student life at Glasgow School of Art during World War Two. The ‘small, archival exhibition’ became an extensive, detailed examination of a unique period in GSA’s history, and an unexpected highlight of my short-lived curatorial career. The title of the show was taken from an April 1942 issue of the Glasgow newspaper The Citizen. In the same paper, GSA Director W.O Hutchison had been quoted as saying that ‘the encouragement of the arts in war-time must not in any way be regarded as a diminution of the national effort, but rather as an asset and an encouragement to a free and better future.’ Apart from a few months in 1939, and in spite of the closure of some departments (ceramics and printmaking) and a vastly reduced staff and student population, Glasgow School of Art remained open for the remainder of the war. With the assistance of many former ‘war years’ students, the exhibition collated memories, histories, photographs and artwork of the period. The opening reunited old friends and classmates and a number of the exhibits were subsequently donated to GSA’s Archives and Collections.

Along with works of art and design made by staff and students between 1939-1945 (much of it loaned by GSA alumni of the period), the exhibition included a range of archival material to provide further context to life at GSA in wartime: letters, photographs, sketches, news cuttings, medals and prizes were displayed alongside thematic text panels which included first-hand accounts of GSA from the War Years generation. Objects included a homemade knitting bag made from blackout fabric, reinforced with colour tape, just one example of the resourcefulness required when materials were in short supply. The artist and critic Cordelia Oliver loaned a drndyl skirt made of boiled tailor’s canvas, which, as a student, she had stencilled with a pattern taken from a Leon Bakst design for a Diaghilev ballet (the skirt appeared again in Sarah Lowndes’ 2012 exhibition Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow since World War II).

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‘Painting Skirt (Version 1)’ Cordelia Oliver, c.1940s. Courtesy of GSA Archives and Collections, DC 066/3/1/2/2/v1

In the catalogue for the War Years exhibition, Oliver recalled that she and her classmates had found a stash of nurse’s white cotton stockings and dyed them bright colours to match the homemade clothes they had begun to make and wear. The students ‘deliberately set ourselves against the ugly, military style of dress which came into fashion during the war’, using whatever they could find to make skirts and blouses based on peasant dress, an undoubted influence of Kathleen Mann, the innovative former Head of the Embroidery Department who had contributed to the 1943 book New Life for Old Clothes. Mann had revolutionised the department in the 1930s and went on to publish books including Design from Peasant Art (1939). Her work was included in three other exhibitions at GSA between 1988 and 2012: Jude Burkhauser’s seminal 1988 exhibition Glasgow Girls: Women at the Art School 1880-1920; Liz Arthur’s 1996 The Unbroken Thread: A century of embroidery & weaving at Glasgow School of Art and Kathy Chambers’ 2004 Kathleen Mann: Embroiderer, Artist, Teacher and Author. Mann’s husband, the artist Hugh Adam Crawford, was Head of Painting at GSA during the war and his influence as a tutor was a recurrent theme amongst alumni of the period.

The exhibition showcased paintings by Crawford and his colleagues, including David Donaldson and Ian Fleming, along with works by his former students such as Joan Eardley, Cordelia Oliver, Frieda Ewart Scott, Carlo Rossi, Joseph O’Donnell, Maude Hamilton, Bet Low and Margot Sandeman (who would go on to work at Bletchley Park as a code breaker in 1942). A 1920s painting by former GSA student Andrew Law depicted the dandy Ancell Stronach, one of the most memorable tutors in wartime GSA, whose ‘arty dress’, according to the Glasgow Herald, ‘attracted stares as he walked briskly down Renfrew Street’, regularly accompanied by the live birds and animals that he brought in for students to draw. In 1940 Stronach left his role as a Professor of Mural Painting at GSA for a life on the stage with his act Ancell and His 40 Painted Pigeons.

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‘Portrait of Ancell Stronach’, Andrew Law, c.1920s. Courtesy of GSA Archives and Collections, NMC/0051

Textiles made at GSA in the early 1940s were also featured extensively, including embroidered panels by Mary Jack, a rug wool on tweed and a tapestry footstool by Catherine McCallum (née Arthur) and a number of works by Dorothy Smith, including a canvas-work stool, a handwoven, vegetable dye seat and an embroidered hanging. Smith recalled trawling hedges to find scraps of wool and in the absence of more conventional fabrics, included her mother’s hair in her Diploma Show work. Flour bags from Scotstoun Flour Mill were used by embroiderers.  The students’ ingenuity made the press – in a January 1943 issue of the Sunday Mail, it was reported that ‘lengths of Scottish tweeds, spun from the sheep’s wool from hedgerows and from the combings of dogs, are being spun in Glasgow by […] students who are reviving Scotland’s oldest arts. The tweeds, beautifully designed, have been dyed with old Scottish vegetable dyes, also collected by the students. Revival of spinning, weaving and dyeing has come through the foresight and initiative of Miss Agnes C. McCreadie, teacher at Glasgow School of Art.’

In spite of the fact that the Red Cross occupied the ground and basement floors of the Mackintosh Building during the war, former students remember a strangely spacious building, with many staff and students away on active duty. The students and staff who remained formed a close-knit and far more diverse cohort than had previously been the case. Women students were in the majority and, in 1944, the ‘marriage bar’ was lifted, allowing painters such as Mary Armour to resume teaching careers they had been forced to put on hold due to an archaic regulation that insisted women demit their profession after they married. Working class students were also more visible than ever before – increased wages and employment opportunities had allowed parents to send their children to art school or university for the first time in their family history. Conscripted students came back to visit when on leave, often in uniform, or exempted from further duty due to injury. American and Polish servicemen also became temporary students, attending evening classes while stationed in Glasgow. The headline of a Citizen newspaper cutting in the exhibition reported that a ‘Man Whose Father Kicked Hitler’s Pants is Here’. The ‘man’ was Ludwig Borsch, a student of Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and a seaman in the US Merchant Navy who spent his shore leave drawing in GSA studios. Before his family left Germany for the US, Borsch’s father had allegedly kicked Hitler at a meeting in Nuremberg in 1930.

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Margot Sandeman, ‘Lovers in a Barn’, (1940). Courtesy of Gerber Fine Art.

Other international influences made a long-lasting impact on the artistic life of the school and the cultural life of Glasgow in the period. Not least, some of the two thousand refugees who had come to Scotland in 1939 made firm connections with GSA, with more following after the war. These included Manfred Selby, a member of staff at GSA in the 1950s, who had been a classmate of Albert Speer. Selby helped establish the Compass Gallery and became an important role model for young post-war architects – a number of his wartime sketches were shown in Art Booms with the Guns. The artists Josef Herman and Jankel Adler became central figures in the art community in Glasgow, bringing new ideas and forms to Scotland. Herman introduced Jewish street theatre techniques and an expressionistic treatment of pictorial space which, for Tom Macdonald, ‘helped stimulate a move away from the academic practice of the Academy’. Organisations such as the Cosmo Cinema, The Refugee Centre, the Citizen’s Theatre, the New Art Club and, in particular, the Unity Theatre (a combination of 1930s independent, progressive companies such as the Workers’ Theatre Group and the Glasgow Jewish Institute Players) flourished in the 1940s. All had close connections with GSA, as former students such as Bet Low, Cordelia Oliver and Tom Macdonald have noted. The knowledge and influence of European avant-garde practices shared by refugees and emigres had a profound impact on staff and students at GSA and represented an important cultural contribution to the city of Glasgow.

Fire-watching duty became another repeated theme in the exhibition, and students recalled the apprehension, fear and discomfort involved in their overnight vigils, yet the social aspect of fire-watching emerged as one of the most memorable experiences of the war years at GSA. A small team of students, each with a bucket of sand, fiercely guarded the Mackintosh Building each night. These memories are particularly poignant in the light of the 2014 and 2018 fires at GSA. Lewis Allan (whose 1942 painting of tutor Henry Y Allison was shown) was on the roof of the Mackintosh Building on fire-watching duty with his friend and fellow student Joseph O’Donnell. That night, Allan and O’Donnell witnessed the bombing of Clydebank, O’Donnell’s hometown. O’Donnell and his family were some of the few to survive, and he resumed study at GSA a few weeks later, having relocated to Blantyre. His Newbery and Guthrie Prizewinning Self-Portrait of 1941, loaned by fellow artist and classmate, Carlo Rossi was a highlight of the exhibition.

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Front cover, catalogue, ‘Art Booms with the Guns’, The War Years at GSA’

Art Booms with The Guns became more than an exhibition in many respects. It became an opportunity to gather memories, reconsider works of art, read letters and newspapers from the period, reflect on GSA’s civic role in the city. It gave us a chance to acknowledge the valuable role of refugees and immigrants in the cultural life of Scotland and to bring together a unique generation of former students. The stories we were told in the planning of the exhibition resounded with tales of common purpose, determination, resourcefulness, hope and camaraderie. There were also tales of unremitting cold, rationing, students returning with missing limbs or not at all. For those who survived, the exhibition, organised when most were in their eighties, would be the last in their lifetime.

Read Susannah Thompson’s blog post on Newbery Gallery exhibition ‘Speak English’, Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter (2002) here. 

GSA Exhibitions Timeline (3): Susannah Thompson, ‘Speak English’, Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter, 2002

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Poster publication, ‘Speak English’, 12-31 Oct 2002

Dr Susannah Thompson is Head of Doctoral Studies at the Glasgow School of Art. A previous role for her at GSA was as Exhibitions Assistant. Here she recollects a number of exhibitions she worked on, including the Newbery Gallery exhibition ‘Speak English’, Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter, that ran 12-31 Oct 2002. 

In October 2002 I was working as Exhibitions Assistant at Glasgow School of Art in a department of two. The programme was run by the artist and curator Kathy Chambers, a graduate of the Sculpture Department and Exhibitions Officer at GSA between 1990 and 2006. There was a certain pattern and routine to the job, and many of the exhibitions we organised at the time, constrained by a tiny budget, were fairly pedestrian – the usual raft of fixed, annual departmental exhibitions, touring exhibitions or sponsored ‘prize’ shows. In between these obligations, though, Kathy managed to present some of the most idiosyncratic, specialist and imaginative exhibitions to be seen in Scotland at that time.

The exhibitions I was involved with ranged from original research on obscure historical subjects, such as George Rawson’s brilliant exhibition on the life and work of Charles Heath Wilson in 2000, or the Goethe Institut’s exhibition on the work of Eckhart Muthesius in India in 2001, to exhibitions of studio-fresh work by GSA students and exhibitions by iconic artists, architects and designers such as Lucienne Day (2003) and CJ Lim (2004). In 2001, Argentine printmaker Ral Veroni displayed Lucha Por la Vida, a collection of artist’s books and prints, in the unique setting of the Mackintosh Library. Another highlight was art and design collective Lapland’s response to the work of the painter James McNeill Whistler in 2003’s Green Margarine.

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‘Lucha Por la Vida’, Ral Veroni, 2001

One of the most memorable projects during my tenure as Exhibitions Assistant, however, was Speak English, an exhibition by Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter. The exhibition was held in the Newbery Gallery, an open, walk-through exhibition space on the ground floor of the concrete-clad, seven storey Newbery Tower (demolished in 2011 to make way for the Reid Building). Speak English brought together two distinct bodies of existing work, Ånd: Inside the Invisible (2001) by Himid and Proverbs for Adwoa by Sulter (1992), to form a reconfigured joint exhibition.

The show was scheduled to coincide with a city-wide programme organised to accompany the Culture, Gender, Power conference held at the University of Strathclyde. It acted as a direct response to exhortations of right-wing commentators that people resident in the UK should ‘speak English’, (while pointedly aiming such statements at immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers). As Sulter and HImid noted in a text written for the exhibition, such statements imply that ‘all you have to do to be left to live a peaceful life in Scotland is to conform, to speak English.’ The work of both artists reflected the way in which language can become a site of power: what it means to have a voice, the privileging of speech over touch and sight, how language can be weaponised, and what it means to silence and be silenced.

The text and image photoworks which formed Sulter’s Proverbs for Adwoa were intended to destabilise the viewer by exploring the social lives of African objects. First shown at Bernice Steinbaum in New York City in 1993, images of akua’ba fertility figures were shown with proverbs incised into copper plates alongside. Fetish depicted circumcision masks, accompanied by metal labels incised with words such as ‘sharp’ and ‘rusty’. In the later GSA incarnation of these works, Sulter added red tissue paper, further emphasising the bloody violence of FGM. The gold weights of Proverbs for Kobena, like the other objects, refused to conform to the status of ‘aesthetic’ object, countering a decontextualized, museological gaze. As the art historian Deborah Cherry noted, ‘displayed in museums as trophies, these fragments are allowed to ‘speak English’ through labels which re-classify them. How are they to speak in their new lives?’ Bridging the decade since the works were produced, the GSA exhibition also included a special edition of Sulter’s 2002 play Service to Empire, a narrative based on the Scots-Ghanaian heritage and life of JJ Rawlings, former President of Ghana, published to coincide with Sulter’s new imprint A19/ Atelier 19. Sulter also included a new photographic triptych, Akwambo: A Good Spirit Always Looks after her Young (2001) a series of large-format Polaroid photographs now part of the Scottish Parliament collection. The portraits show Sulter herself, a portrait of ballet dancer (and lon-gtime collaborator and musician) Miles Ofonso, and in the centre an image of a fertility doll. With the photoworks, texts and plates, the exhibition exemplified Sulter’s ability to move seamlessly between disciplines and forms, and demonstrated her ability to make art that was both explicitly political and formally poetic.

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Maud Sulter, Service to Empire (cover image), 2002, Edinburgh: A19

Himid’s Ånd: Inside the Invisible was originally conceived and installed in a former 17th century leprosy hospital, St Jorgen’s, in Bergen, Norway in 2001. It consisted of one hundred small paintings, of which sixty were exhibited in the GSA incarnation the following year. While almost eradicated in the rest of Europe in the 19th century, leprosy persisted in Norway and it was a Norwegian doctor who discovered the bacterium which caused it in 1873. Often assumed to be a long-gone, biblical disease, leprosy is still endemic in certain parts of the world, a reminder of global inequality. In his recent essay Behind the leprosarium gates, the writer Oliver Basciano wrote movingly of the residents of Tichilești, Europe’s last leprosarium on the border between Romania and the Ukraine. The essay called to mind Himid’s earlier project, which similarly attempted to represent the small, everyday details lives loved behind the walls of St Jorgen’s Hospital, whose last residents remained there until 1946. Like Sulter, Himid used the juxtaposition of text and image to powerful effect. Her ‘luggage labels’ were small handwritten lines in English and Norwegian which accompanied each painting and became poignant titles for them. For Himid, ‘the paintings are talismans as if each person had a piece of fabric sewn into his/her jacket and this reminded them of who they really were before the disease.’

In addition to these works, Himid presented The Signalling Negro (1996), her response to Gericault’s 1819 painting The Raft of the Medusa. In Himid’s version only the standing, signalling figure remains, looking towards the coast of Mauritania. The overlaid text reads ‘THE SIGNALLING NEGRO ON THE RAFT OF tHe MEDUSA DID nOT USE WORDs’, a further allusion to the title of the exhibition – here, where words are useless, gesture becomes crucial. It has a particularly affecting resonance today in its resemblance to media images of migrant rafts.

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‘The Signalling Negro’ (1996), Lubaina Himid

The work of both artists reflected on aspects of the way one culture is integrated into another: the linked histories of Scotland and Scandinavia, of Scotland and Africa, the paradoxical circulation and consumption of objects, and the dialogues that can be generated between painting and photography, spoken and written language, images and text, visual and material form.

GSA Exhibitions timeline (2): Jim Rafferty, ‘Divergence’, 1964

After seeing GSA Exhibitions recent call-out for exhibition publicity from previous years, Jim Rafferty, a GSA alumnus, got in touch. He tells the story behind the exhibition poster for ‘Divergence’, a student exhibition in 1964 that took place in Newbery Gallery, The Glasgow School of Art.

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‘This exhibition included the work of myself and seven other peers at GSA. I studied under Robert Stewart (1924 – 1995) in Textiles at Glasgow School of Art.  I was a student at GSA from 1960-64.

A little bit about the others featured on the poster.  My wife Rosemary did Ceramics (or Pottery as it was termed then) with Johnny Crawford. She went on to become Head of Art at Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar and is now retired and painting every day. Ian Clydesdale did Textiles also.

Dirk Buwalda (1947-2009) has sadly passed on, but spent a year at GSA on a general course. He became Bruce McLean’s photographer in the late 60s’ (‘Pieces and Poses: Dirk Buwalda Photographs Bruce McLean 1965-2008’, Buwalda, D, McLean, B, De Verbeelding Publishers, 2009), before returning to his native Holland. Charlie Boyle went to Australia where he became a successful painter. Tam Murray studied Graphics but we lost touch after graduation.

Jimmy Leggat is a successful painter & we see him regularly. Eddie Chisnall we didn’t see after graduation but I believe he too continued as a painter. Robert Burns who took the photos is still in touch and went on to be a successful photographer and is still active.

And me? I’ve had a number of creative careers as artist / designer / Art Director / songwriter & singer with three albums to my name, and currently still an active graphic designer & songwriter.

The ‘Divergence‘ show was mounted largely to demonstrate that our generation at GSA had already absorbed a number of the prevailing new artistic currents of the ‘60’s. We were anxious to demonstrate to our lecturers that their ideas & creative philosophies had begun to seem a trifle… inappropriate. This not to say that the grounding we were receiving at GSA in the traditional practices of Life Drawing & Painting / Still Life etc. went unappreciated – far from it. We merely wanted to take those same disciplines into other and more challenging directions.

The use of the participants’ photographs on the poster came directly from the fact that photographers, this being The Sixties, had become iconic figures: David Bailey / Terence Donovan / & Robert Freeman. Freeman had photographed The Beatles for the cover of their second album in a style which echoed the early Hamburg photographs of the group by Astrid Kirchner in a moody, side-lit manner & which went on to have wide influence of its own. Add to this the appearance of Asahi Pentax 35mm cameras, at a price which students could just about afford and which were viewed as a must have accessory and a major signifier that you were young, hip and right up there with the movers & shakers.

THIS was A Time to be young and at Art School.

It seems now, in retrospect to my generation of art school graduates, that some of the fire and revolutionary fervour has tended to dissipate in these more conservative & cash strapped times. Having said that, I was fortunate, given my working class background & the first of my family to pursue any kind of continuing education after leaving secondary school in my hometown of Paisley at the age of fifteen. I submitted a portfolio of work in ‘59 to GSA and was accepted & awarded a grant. This opened up a life changing experience for me & I relished every second of the four years spent within the confines of The Art School. During this period I made great friends & met my wife Rosemary, to whom I am still very happily married.

In retrospect, having been asked whether there was a key thing I learnt at GSA, it seems from my present perspective that if you should be fortunate to possess any kind of creative drive, follow it with as much resolve and dedication as you can muster, and if you do it may open up the most surprising & unexpected avenues.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to pursue pretty much all of the creative areas in which I had interest and ability and I am exceedingly grateful to have had all of the opportunities which have come my way as a result. Being a student at GSA was the bedrock for all of this. Great days indeed.’

NewJRroundsmall

 

Timeline: 32 Years of GSA Exhibitions

Were you part of a GSA exhibition in the last 30+ years? Exhibitions Director Jenny Brownrigg has been working on a timeline – 32 years of GSA Exhibitions- drawn from archival material held by GSA Archives and GSA Exhibitions archives.

If you have taken part in a GSA Exhibition, in particular 1988-2009 (or before 1988) and have any materials relating to it (flyers, documentation) or further information or memories, please email exhibitions@gsa.ac.uk . This is a working document so please do get in touch with any omissions or additions.

Here is the GSA Exhibitions timeline: GSA Exhibitions_timeline_1988onwards

Over the next period, GSA Exhibitions will be posting on different projects from the timeline.

Image: ‘Glasgow Girls’ (1988), curated by Jude Burkhauser. Courtesy of GSA Archives GSAA/EPH/10/43GlasgowGirls_womenartschoolintranet

‘Glasgow ESOL for Work’ write personal response to ‘Observing Women at Work’

As part of their Spring Break project, the ‘Glasgow ESOL for Work’ group of SQA National 3 and National 4 learners attended the ‘Observing Women at Work’ exhibition 30th & 31st March.

The ‘Glasgow ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Forum’ mission is to assist the integration, employability and personal development of asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and marginalised black and minority (BME) groups by developing their proficiency in English Language.

The Learners were tasked to write a personal response/roles of women in work piece over the Spring break. Please click the images above to read a selection of the responses.

Daisy Sutcliffe, granddaughter of Helen Muspratt, writes about visit to ‘Observing Women at Work’ and the overlaps between Muspratt and Raffles

Daisy Sutcliffe is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow interested in UNESCO’s role in the mobilisation of creative practices around naturally designated World Heritage Sites, for example Giant’s Causeway and the Western Caucasus. Her grandmother, Helen Muspratt (1907-2001), was a photographer working in the early-mid 20th century across Europe and features in Franki Raffles: Observing Women at Work, which is open at the Reid Gallery until 27th April 2017. This article was published as part of of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Environmental Sciences newsletter.

Daisy Sutcliffe attended Franki Raffles, ‘Observing Women at Work’ at the Glasgow School of Art, an exhibition featuring some work by her grandmother, Helen Muspratt. Franki Raffles was a photographer based in Scotland working in the 1970s until her sudden death in 1994 aged 39. Her work documented the lives of women across Scotland and further afield. She was especially interested in Russia where she went for a youth club trip in 1971, and returned several times before her death. Here she found that the communist system worked for women, who, unlike in Scotland (and the UK more widely) at the time, could work on an equal footing to men, choose the work they undertook and be paid equally. Here her interests overlapped with Daisy’s grandmother Helen’s, who following her fledgling interest in communism went there in 1936 aged 29 and documented the lives that she saw including those of women at work. When her work became better known, thanks to the work of Val Williams and her 1980s television series about five women photographers of the twentieth Century, she claimed to find feminism bemusing. Helen was a remarkable woman, dropping her documentary and experimental practice a few years later when her first child was born so that her husband Jack Dunman could work for the Communist Party whilst she supported their growing family. Of note in both their work was the lack of objectification of the photographs’ subjects. This remained important to Raffles. Muspratt went on to specialise in portraiture and weddings, always trying to balance the human element with the frame and composition. The title of the book about her life, Face, Shape and Angle was her description of this. Daisy’s PhD, which includes a practice-based element, takes inspiration from this visual interplay of object and subject and record of visceral encounter.

 

Photograph: Helen Muspratt, 1936 Women at work in the USSR

From Sutcliffe, J. (2016) Face, Shape and Angle: Helen Muspratt Photographer. Manchester University Press

‘Line of Sight’, James Houston, Paul Maguire, Kimberley O’Neill and Jen Sykes

Line of Sight

‘Line of Sight’ was a group show by GSA Design School staff Paul Maguire, James Houston, Kimberley O’Neill and Jen Sykes, looking at the current perceived role of technology, and what relationship humans have with its future. The title comes from a term used in the theory of radio transmission to describe when a receiving antenna is just able to see a transmitting antenna.  The exhibition ran 19 November – 16 December 2016. This exhibition was selected from an open call to GSA students and staff for proposals for self-initiated projects.

Finlay Clark, a School of Fine Art student, was commissioned to respond to the exhibition. Please download his text here.

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‘Line of Sight’ gallery installation, Reid Gallery, GSA (2016) Photo: Alan Dimmick (r-l), ‘Objects under Domestication’, (2016), Jen Sykes, metal, wireless sensors; ‘First Person Shooter’, (2016), Paul Maguire

 

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‘Reboxing’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Software, Video, iPhone, Packaging, Dimensions variable

Extract: [Technology is a device, a medium, and more than ever a way of being. O’Neill’s video installation Mood Organ, (2016) vividly explores the rich dialectic of affective labour; saturated with visceral imagery of the eyes, it closely examines the body’s relationship to technology as they are put in close proximity with lapping fields of water.

O’Neill:        It’s really weird doing something at work for me.

–That’s the thing that’s totally thrown me.

[All]:          –Yep.

O’Neill:        –Because you relate to the role and stuff like that,   and I’m definitely a different person making my work than I am anywhere else.

Maguire:        Yeah you’ve got your professional life and then your…ultimate reality of art.

Myself:         –And now they’re meshing together…]

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‘Mood Organ’, (2016), Kimberley O’Neill, HD video

 

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‘Momento mori (Remember that you have to die)’, (2016), James Houston, LED Panel

 

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‘First person shooter’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Digital print 105x116cm

 

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‘blue=new black ();’, (2013), Paul Maguire & James Houston, 35mm slide projection, dimensions variable

 

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‘blue=new black ();’, (2013), detail, Paul Maguire & James Houston

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‘Do you love me yet’?’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Software, Projection, Kinect, Spotlight, dimensions variable

 

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‘Choose your friends wisely’, (2016), Jen Sykes, Printed circuit boards

 

Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium

On 18 May 2016 GSA hosted Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium with speakers Frank Quitely, Yishan Li, Sha Nazir and Jason Mathis.

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The first half of the symposium was spent discussing the medium of comics, its position in popular culture today, and its relationship with other mediums. This latter point focused mostly on the links between comics, television, and film given the recent string of adaptations from comics into these other art forms. Yishan Li spoke about her experience working on the new Buffy graphic novels – a reversal of the norm, as the movie and television series were then adapted into comics. Frank Quitely then talked about his experience working with Mark Millar on Jupiter’s Legacy and how the fact that it has been optioned for a movie did not influence the way that he approached his work. From that, the unique elements contained within the structure of comics were unpacked, such as the control of time, which the audience possesses in comics but is relinquishes in film. Additionally, the notion of comics being more ‘disposable’ (or, as Chris Ware has said, a ‘low-rent’ medium) was addressed, looking to see if this allowed for a more open approach to comics, questioning whether it enabled a greater sense of freedom and experimentation.

After the intermission, the discussion focused on the details behind making comics, the different approaches that were used by Yishan Li and Frank Quitely, and the Sha Nazir spoke about what it’s like to be a creator and publisher. Considerations of digital versus analogue were examined, both in terms of creation and dissemination, with many questions coming from the audience right until the end of the symposium, and then continuing on afterwards in the reception.

There was a pop-up shop that ran through the course of the day which sold work from students and independent makers. The GSA library also had a display of their ‘zine collection, featuring work from GSA, the rest of the UK, and beyond.

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO RECORDING ON SOUNDCLOUD: <PART 1> and <PART 2>

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Frank Quitely began his career writing and drawing strips for the independently-published Scottish humour anthology Electric Soup before finding his first professional work painting Western and Sci-Fi strips for the UK anthology The Judge Dredd Megazine. He then worked mostly for DC Comics on a variety of shorts, mini-series, ongoing titles, and original graphic novels, including All Star Superman and the creator-owned We3, and on Marvel’s New-X-Men. He’s currently finishing the creator-owned Jupiter’s Legacy at Image Comics, and has several smaller creator-owned projects in the pipeline.

Yishan Li is a professional UK/Chinese manga artist currently living in Edinburgh, UK. You can see a list of her projects at www.liyishan.com. Yishan Li has been drawing since 1998 and has been published internationally including China, USA, France and the UK. She has worked for DC and Darkhorse and is the artist for the Buffy graphic novels coming out in June.

Sha Nazir is an illustrator and designer who has worked on a diverse range of books, from the critically acclaimed The Amazing Mr. Mackintosh through to Mega Penguin. As the publisher at BHP Comics he’s also responsible for releasing new Graphic Novels and Comics from industry legends like John Wagner to break out creators like Clare Forrest in addition to producing the successful Glasgow Comic Con, which last year saw over 10,000 attendees pass through the doors. He is the founding chair of SICBA, the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance. His first graphic novel Laptop Guy is to be released June 2016, and his newest book Comic Invention – which accompanies the Hunterian Art Gallery exhibition, Comic Invention: The World’s First Comic – is out now. You can see more at www.BHPcomics.com  

Jason Mathis is the Programme Leader for the Glasgow School of Art’s International Foundation. His own practice and research involves comics, having created and distributed his own work under the title ALL YOU CAN EAT, as well as working with local publishers in Glasgow on various projects. In 2013, he worked with Professor Ronan Deazley on the publication ‘Comics and Copyright’, and he plans on creating new issues of ALL YOU CAN EAT in the very near future.

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Photos: Alan McAteer

Supported by:

The Anatomy of Employability: Articulating Graduate Capabilities for the Creative Arts project fund, awarded to GSA by the HEA. (The Higher Education Academy).

The Glasgow School of Art Career Service